New York, NY– In what has been a challenging year for all Americans, students are now trying to return to normalcy. Schools are reopening with half of the students actually attending at once. Discussions and hard conversations are being had between health officials and teachers who ask whether students should return all at once and whether masks should be used.
If you look at the percentage of NYC schools that have reopened, you will realize that NYC still has a long way to go before reopening fully. For example, 46% of eighth grade students were open for full in-person instruction. On the flip side, overall, 68% of eighth grade students were at home at least part of the school week, meaning that they were part of a hybrid program. However, in some other parts of the U.S., the situation is completely different from the one unfolding in New York. According to Burbio, California has the lowest rate of in person instruction at 22.8% That seems paltry compared to North Dakota, where 100% of instruction has been in person. While NYC has been doing better than some states in the U.S., it still has a long way to go before it reaches the end of the tunnel.
Scott Reisinger, a NYC Head of School from Trevor Day, had to lead the school from the depths of COVID-19 despair. He explained that his job had become increasingly harder since the beginning of March 2020. “When I canceled school on March 12th of last year, I expected everyone was going to be back in a relatively short period of time. And as the rates went up in New York… I decided that we were just going to sit out for the remainder of last year.” After the unexpected end to the 2019-2020 academic year, Mr. Reisinger had many questions that he would need to answer over the summer in order for his students to return to normalcy come September. Before even considering a return to Trevor, Reisinger had to consult the New York City Health Officials on the possibility of a safe return. In fact, every time a decision was made, he had to contact these officials before finalizing. Unfortunately, Trevor was met with some roadblocks at first.
“We made the decision not to return until October which was in some ways a controversial decision even for those who were making it…” Reisinger said. Even though many parents would be mad at Trevor’s reopening plans, Reisinger knew that he had to do what he felt was right, and he had to make sure that all teachers, faculty, and students were safe. According to Reisinger, Trevor’s plan was originally to return at the beginning of September. However, he was told by the Health Officials that there were not enough COVID tests to consistently pass around the school. This meant that Reisinger had to wait until early October until he could enact his hybrid plan (two weeks at school, two weeks on Zoom).
Multiple factors caused plans to go awry during the 2020-2021 year. For example, in December, Trevor’s plan was in shambles due to a student and a faculty member contracting COVID-19. Starting in late December, Trevor had its students go to school, then go back home, then go back to school, and then go back home. Eventually, the scheduling became so hectic that Trevor was forced to partly shut down until Winter Break was over. Now, in the last nine weeks of school, a positive test or two could easily shut down Trevor for the rest of the academic year.
After this experimental school year, Reisinger is thankful for the opportunity to return to normal. Ever since March, Trevor has been unable to have all students return to school. Beginning in September, he hopes that changes, and he expects all students to return to school while wearing masks. One of the reasons that Mr. Reisinger is confident in his ability to lead Trevor back to normalcy is because of the new vaccines that are starting to be distributed. Starting April 1st, people over 30 are allowed to receive the vaccine in New York, which means that teachers and faculty will all be vaccinated by September for a potential return. As for the students, the Pfizer-BioNTech has been extremely effective for children between the ages of 12 and 15.